Before an individual decides to plead guilty to a charge of driving while intoxicated, he or she should know about Louisiana’s look-back period. The look-back period, also known as a “cleansing” period, is the time in which an offense stays on a motorist’s driving record. Certain offenses, such as DWI, remain on a driving record longer than other less serious traffic violations.

The court may review any DWI charges during the past 10 years and consider each offense on an individual’s record when deciding on whether to convict. The prosecuting team, however, may not hold a DWI conviction that occurred more than 10 years ago against an individual facing a new DWI charge, as noted by KPLC News.

While a driver who received a DWI conviction nearly 10 years ago may believe it no longer remains a concern, it may nonetheless lead to enhanced penalties if a court decides to convict again. If an individual, for example, incurs a DWI charge today, a prior conviction from any time within the past 10 years may result in a prosecutor recognizing the new one as a second offense. The penalties and punishment for a second DWI are harsher, and a third offense becomes a felony.

Two-year look-back period for a drug possession offense

When a person faces an offense of drug possession, the court considers his or her record from the past two years. For a drug possession charge, however, there is only one time that a court considers anything over two years void. If an individual faces repeat possession charges in a short time, the two-year cleansing period may not apply. The court may then consider each offense when it determines a punishment.

Pleading guilty to receive a suspension of a conviction

Sometimes, an individual faced with a first-time DWI charge may plead guilty to request a more lenient punishment and avoid a conviction going on his or her record. This option may work for motorists who have not had a traffic violation for at least five years and do not have a criminal record.